Monday, 26 May 2008

Fairy Tale and Movie week, and one superhero confession

Last week turned out to be delightful in terms of what I was reading, and the movies I ended up seeing. For someone who doesn't get out a lot now - having kids under the age of 5 = minimal social life, when there aren't many babysitters around!! So, this past weekend ended up being a real treat for me.

Fairy Tale 1:
I read Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. Wow. This is an adult fairy tale book. By this I mean Carter writes in a language with symbols that are appropriate for older teens and adults. She has taken fairy tales we love, and rewritten them from a darker, almost gothic perspective. Most of the stories are about the moments before a marriage, and after, when the girl changes into a woman. That twilight time between childhood and adulthood, when blood has first begun to flow, and the girl is making her way into the world for the first time. Has she been taught well? These are about her awakening to life and love: From The Bloody Chamber (Bluebeard): I lay in bed alone. And I longed for him. And he disgusted me.
Were there jewels enough in all his safes to recompense me for this predicament?

From The Courtship of Mr Lyon (Beauty and the Beast): He forced himself to master his shyness, which was that of a wild creature, and so she contrived to master her own - to such effect that soon she was chattering away to him as if she had known him all her life.

and from The Company of Wolves (Little Red Riding Hood): Ten wolves, twenty wolves - so many wolves she could not count them, howling in concert as if demented or deranged. Their eyes reflected the light from the kitchen and shone like a hundred candles.
It is very cold, poor things, she said; no wonder they howl so.
She closed the window on the wolves' threnody and took off her scarlet shawl, the colour of poppies, the colour of sacrifices, the colour of her menses, and, since her fear did her no good, she ceased to be afraid.

Most of the stories are familiar to anyone who has ever read fairy tales as a child: Bluebeard, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Puss-in-Boots. I have to confess that I loved most of all, The Company of Wolves. It was better than I hoped for, since I love the movie that is based on Carter's short story, also called The Company of Wolves. It satisfies why Red Riding Hood could survive. Because, there are many different tellings of Little Red Riding Hood, in which the grandmother sometimes lives, they both live, they both die, Riding Hood is saved by her father, by a is as if this story is primordial, and we have to try to find the ending and shape that best suits our own natures, over time and culture. Angela Carter celebrated the beast within - not the monster that was bluebeard, who is a corruption of sexuality, power and hunger, but the natural beast of the world that is within us as well as without. These are powerful stories, powerful retellings that are adult fairy tales not just because of the sex, but because of the theme of transformation. I think this book - these retellings by Carter - is close to the original spirit of the fairy tales, dark and breathtakingly beautiful and fragile. Which transformation is. There is even a vampire (or two) in this collection. I love this line, which reminded me so much of Anne Rice's Vampire series: "This being, rooted in change and time,is about to collide with the timeless Gothic eternity of the vampires, for whom all is as it has always been and will be." The Gothic eternity of the vampires; how did Angela Carter know, since this book came out in 1979, before the vampire (and goths) were part of any scene? Somehow, she did.

Highly recommended. One I will come back to again and again.

Fairy Tale 2:
Then, we rented Sleeping Beauty, which we finally found at the video store yesterday. So my daughter and I watched Sleeping Beauty together. She was a bit afraid of the dragon, until she realized Prince Philip would know how to kill him. Now, I didn't tell her this, but I was disappointed the three fairies helped Philip so much. It felt like all he had to do was wave the sword, and they did everything else for him, including casting the spell that takes the sword directly to the dragon's weak spot! So I felt cheated...I wanted to see Philip have to think and reason and find out how to kill the dragon, which is the whole point of facing the beast yourself. So, I was once again reminded of Disney and why I dislike it in the end. I do admit i love the colours of Sleeping Beauty, and I love the struggle between the good and bad magic, and I thought the best characters were the good witches and Malificent, who is magnificent as the Evil Queen! (Holly-Anne hated her hat, by the way, which is way to symbolic of the devil for my tastes. Stupid Disney) I think my daughter likes the animal movies better (Lion King, etc), but at least we finally got to see it.

Movie 1:
Then, Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I won't give any plot points away!'s worth going to see. one day I will discuss this movie more when I think everyone has seen it, for now I am going to say - hurray, I saw the movie while it was new in the theatres!!! and my husband and I had a date! My eldest son Duncan, 19, babysat for us as a birthday present to us. A lovely gift, and one most welcome since my husband loves Indiana Jones very much. Very enjoyable movie, breathtaking and alot of fun, like the Indiana Jones we all know and love. Oh, and my love also bought me the Indiana Jones DVD movie collection for my birthday.....which I burst out laughing to, since I said it was a gift he wanted more, had wanted for ages in fact, and I was going to get it for him for Father's Day!!! I told him I had been Simpsoned (after the Simpsons, the tv show),and when he looked at me puzzled, I said, because you bought me a gift that was for you! Thankfully he got the humour, and to make up for it went out and ordered something from Dr Who for me, because I'd been looking for the soundtrack for a long time. The Dr Who theme song is one of my all-time favourite pieces of music and I often joke I want it played at my funeral. I think we will laugh about this for a long time to come!!

Movie 2:
Cloverfield - my eldest son, Duncan, age 19 going on 30, was after me to see this movie all last summer. I hated Blair Witch Project, and then I heard there were spider-like things in Cloverfield, so I said no. Well, we were looking for something to watch together and when I discovered that he still hadn't seen it, I gave in. The things we do for our children! Lo, to my amazement, I really enjoyed it. Much, much more than I thought I would. I disagreed with some of what the characters did, but this just lets me imagine how I would write the story, so for starting stories in your head - what if's - this is good for that alone. Very few gory scenes - no slashing/knifing/endless killing sprees! No saw! No mindless serial killer and stupid characters! It was a good film. So, I had to apologize to my son and tell him I owe him one now.

Superhero Confession:
Now, if I can convince my eldest that I NEED to see the new Batman movie when it opens (and I do!!!)...maybe he will babysit again (or come with me to the movie.) Not sure if my husband wants to see this one, he's an Indiana Jones fan. I can hardly wait, I am a Batman chick, and adore the 1990's animated cartoons that were so dark and funny (but no one will watch them with me! *boo hoo*!) And it's not the dark suit, guys! It's the tortured soul of Batman I like! His dark past and what he has done with it....and I like bats. I held one - a live one, I know, stupid, they do carry rabies, but it was a warm night in February and somehow this tiny bat flew into me, and it was windy and snowing, so I carried it as far as my corner from downtown Sparks St, when it suddenly flew away. I was going to call the wild bird center here in Ottawa to give it shelter for the winter, so I was a little sad when it flew off. Oh, I loved looking into its dear little face, and seeing its leathery wings and little mouse-like body! Yes, I am counting down to Batman and the Joker and that lovely gothic city and all that dark, witty dialogue......


Rhinoa said...

I can't wait to read The Bloody Chamber this year finally. I have been trying to get around to it for years and finally have space to read it. We watched Enchanted not long ago which is a must for Disney fairy tale fans. It pokes fun at Disney gently and is a great laugh suitable for all ages. My husband even thought it was great laughing along with it.

He is also a massive Batman fan and we often have conversations who would win in Superhero fights. I can't wait to see The Dark Knight, the trailers look completely awesome.

Lady P said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the new Batman movie too; Christian Bale does a super job with the tortured main character. I also want to see the new Indy movie in theatres; am a huge fan of the earlier ones! Mathew thought Cloverfield was great except it was a bit too real for him - I can't watch it because wobbly pictures make me motion sick! Therefore I will never watch The Blair Witch Project either.

I'm on to my second week of very hard retail work. Nothing like 9 hours at a cash to wreck your back, knees, feet, etc. I'm still getting used to it and so am exhausted when I'm done.

No time to read anything right now although I bought 2 books recently; "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch and the other by a girl who was in the FDLS - that polygymy sect recently in the news for taking all the children (Kristen has it at present).

Jeane said...

I read the Bloody Chamber a while back, and ooh, it scared me! I don't read books like that much because well, I do get scared, and can't sleep well. One of the stories really made my skin crawl, but now I can't recall which one it was.

Emily Barton said...

You've just reminded me that I've forgotten I want to read _The Bloody Chamber_, so thanks. I'm with you on always ultimately being disappointed by Disney, and I love the darkness of Batman as well.

Bybee said...

I'm eager to see the new Batman movie and all its delectable darkness.

Sleeping Beauty -- Aurora and Prince Phillip were a couple of stiffs. I like the little blue fairy, Merryweather, and would probably still be scared of Malificent.

Nymeth said...

"I think this book - these retellings by Carter - is close to the original spirit of the fairy tales, dark and breathtakingly beautiful and fragile. Which transformation is."

Yes! So well said! I'm glad you enjoyed this book, Susan. I suspected you would :P

This post would be a PERFECT submission for the fairy tales Bookworms Carnival, you know. As would your post on "Locks". I don't want you to feel like you have to submit them, of course, but I'd be very very happy if you did.

Anonymous said...

The Bloody Chamber was one of the collections I always got our first year Undergrads to read. They were always able to make instant identification with the stories both in terms of their childhoods and where they were currently. It never failed to get intelligent conversation going.